Cooper's 'unfinished business' ends NRL career
Ahead of his final game as a Dragon, English international Mike Cooper has ruled out a return to the NRL, declaring he has unfinished business in the Super League.
It was announced in June that Cooper had been granted a release from the Dragons to take up a three-year deal with his former club, Warrington Wolves.
Prior to his arrival in Australia three seasons ago, Cooper had previously spent his entire rugby league career at the Wolves having signed there as an 11-year-old.
Cooper will play his 69th and final NRL game when St George Illawarra face the Knights on Saturday afternoon.
The 27-year-old's decision to first come to the NRL was mostly met by raised eyebrows when it was announced in 2013.
That remained Cooper's motivation throughout his time at the Dragons.
"I didn't want to come out here and let myself down. There were a few words said when I decided to sign here. Things like: 'who do you think you are going over to the NRL?' from players and media in the UK," Cooper said.
"I wanted to prove them wrong and I feel I've done that.
"I didn't set myself too many targets initially. I put myself under pressure though to really get the respect of everyone. That's all I ever wanted.
"To earn the respect of my teammates, coaches, fans, the rugby league media and the legends of the game who talk on TV. That's what I was thinking.
"There were a few English players who came over here and not had the best rap going back so that was a big thing for me."
The biggest thing he's learnt in his time in the NRL was about himself, having also started his young family in Wollongong.
"I didn't take the game as seriously as I should've done before I came out here. For any young player, it's important you get taken out of your comfort zone at certain parts of your career to try and push yourself," Cooper said.
"I've gained a lot of experience playing in a lot of high-pressure games and against the world's best on a regular basis. I'm proud of what I've achieved here."
Cooper declared his desire to add to his three Tests for England at the end of year Four Nations tournament.
He also weighed in on coach Wayne Bennett's hunt for Australian-based players who are eligible to play for England.
"If they're playing for the right reasons then it's fair enough. But I'll back up what George Burgess and Josh Hodgson said, if players are only playing because they feel they can't get into another team then that's not what we want," Cooper said.
"But if they're genuinely passionate about our country and playing for England, by all means put your hand up. Though if you're not and you're doing it for the wrong reasons, don't bother."